My Top 10 Tips for those wanting to be a motoring writer
You must go the extra mile to make your material fresh and new, and not just repeat a well-known story
If you want to earn respect from your readers and your colleagues, and have more satisfaction yourself, then you need to inform, intrigue and entertain readers with content that they have not read before.
You need a passion, a deep enthusiasm for cars
If your attitude is that an article or book is just another job to wrap up and cross off your To Do list, it will be very obvious to readers. If you have a real enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the subject, that will shine through.
You need the ability to work really hard and for many hours alone
Writing is not team work. You may well work with a team that will include a sub-editor and designer, but for the actual writing you are on your own. Depending on what you are writing, the hours can be long. There is so much more to writing a book than people realise and you have to be comfortable working on your own, preferably in a quiet environment for obvious reasons.
You should dig deeper with your research and always strive to be 100% accurate
Do you want to be better than the next man, or woman? Or are you happy to be average, or second-best? If you want to aim high, you need to try harder and that often translates as putting time and determination into your research. It will pay off. Even the very best will have made the odd mistake in their career because we are human but you must go the extra mile to check everything wherever possible. Once something is in print, it is in print.
Like everything in life, to succeed you need to be determined and very focussed
As stated above, being successful means applying yourself with a single-minded approach and striving to set high standards at all times. This is true of every occupation or sport. The most successful sportsmen combine ability with hard work and total application.
It is vitally important to be reliable and deliver on time - a deadline is a deadline
As a publisher, this is absolutely crucial and missed deadlines gives us bigger problems than almost anything else. It may seem like basic common sense but we have authors who deliver a year late or more. It creates havoc and makes us look inept. We don't work with such authors a second time.
Work to build long-term relationships
I am working with great people I first worked with in the '80s. I have worked with our main designer for 20+ years in complete harmony, irrespective of the pressure. Such professional relationships are very satisfying and very efficient. Such relationships give you great support and it is very true that 'two heads are better than one'.
Write to the length requested - too long translates into extra work for the editor and makes you unpopular
Whether it is an article or a book, a word count is usually agreed or specified in advance. There will be good reasons for that – the article is planned to be three pages or the book has been costed at 250 pages, or whatever. If you produce too many words, the editor will have to reduce them to what was required. That takes time and often considerable skill to maintain the balance and validity of the 'story'. So, if you are guilty, you are adding work, time and cost.
Work hard at writing good English
Although most publishers of magazines and books will employ a sub-editor to polish your English, the better you make your text in the first place, the easier his or her job will be and the more popular you will be. None of us are perfect and the sub is there as a 'last line of defence' but should not be relied upon to sort out sloppy work. You would not believe how many professionals do not know where one sentence ends and another starts. If publications, such as newspapers, try to save money by no longer using subs, your work will appear as you write it. Your reputation is on the line.
Build respect for your work
If you have adhered to the nine points above, you should certainly achieve number 10. Good luck.